Malaysia bans tales of the supernatural

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, which strictly censors foreign movies and books, has decided to ban tomes with “ghostly” tales and those touching on the supernatural, reports said on Thursday.

Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung was quoted by The Star as saying that the government would no longer approve permits to import and publish reading material containing elements “calculated to entertain by frightening”.

These include books within the categories of mystery, mysticism, fantasy, occultism and superstition, he said.

“These materials will create an unhealthy picture in the minds of the readers and influence them by such far-fetched ghostly stories,” he said.

However, titles such as the popular Harry Potter series would not be affected as they were deemed to be “benign”, he added.

The ruling is only for new applications and Chor said those who already have permits would be allowed to import and publish such materials until the expiry of their licences.

He also warned companies not to publish, print or import magazines, novels or comics containing elements of sex and violence, warning that they could be sentenced up to three years in jail or fined 20000 ringgit (about R35000) or both if they were caught.

Chor also warned followers of the Falungong spiritual movement to stop distributing to the ethnic Chinese community here brochures and literature opposing political practices in the country and containing anti-China sentiments. He did not give details.

The government was not stopping anyone from practising Falungong exercises but it would take action if it affected national security, he added.

China outlawed Falungong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, as an “evil cult” in mid-1999.

The home ministry has also banned The Rough Guide History of Islam by Justin Wintle, the News Straits Times reported.

The newspaper gave no reasons for the banning of the book, which is published by Rough Guides in London.

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